Limerick council in court action over tenants' €30k rent arrears

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Limerick council in court action over tenants' €30k rent arrears

Limerick City and Council is owed almost €30,000 in rent arrears

LIMERICK City and County Council has secured court orders allowing it to take possession of two council houses over unpaid rents totalling almost €30,000.

It is the first time the local authority has successfully taken possession proceedings under the provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.

Previously, local authorities were entitled seek possession orders under less onerous legislation which dated back to 1966.

In one case relating to a property at Suil Na hAbhann, Mill Road, Corbally Judge Mary Larkin was told the joint tenants – Barry Cleary and Melanie Sheehan – owed almost €15,000 in  rent.

Revenue Collector with the local authority, Rosmary Fitzgerald, told Limerick District Court the house, which was allocated to the tenants on December 14, 2009 attracts a weekly rent of €72.80.

She told solicitor Ger Reidy, representing Limerick City and County Council, that no rent has been paid by either tenant since December 31, 2013 and that a total of €14,845.90 is outstanding.

Mr Reidy told the court the council has attempted to engage with Mr Cleary and Ms Sheehan but that there has been “no engagement at all” from them since late last year.

Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that rent statements are sent to all council tenants every quarter advising them of any arrears if and when they arise.

She added that Mr Cleary and Ms Sheehan were advised separately of the court proceedings after they were each served with a warning later and a notice to quit.

In a separate case – relating to a council property at Cliona Park, Moyross –  Judge Mary Larkin was told that another tenant, Kerrie Hehir, took up residence in her local authority home on August 20, 2007.

Her weekly rent is €35.80 and the court heard that no payment has been made by her since June 7, 2012.

In that case, the total balance outstanding stands at €10,861.

Mr Reidy confirmed that numerous attempts have been made by council staff to engage with Ms Hehir but that there is been no response.

“There has been no attempt to pay or communicate or contact the council is anyway,” he said adding that she too had been served with a warning letter and notice to quit before the legal proceedings were initiated.

In each case, Judge Larkin said she was satisfied the various provisions of Section 12 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 had had been complied with and that the granting of possession orders was appropriate based on the evidence and the facts before the court.

However, she placed a stay of three months on the orders – meaning Limerick City and County Council cannot take any action to enforce the orders until early December.

In doing so, the judge commented that she hopes the three tenants will “see the light and engage”.

None of the three tenants were present in court despite the council writing to them over the summer informing them of the court date.